Smartphone Apps for Pinhole Photographers

Smartphones today – whether Android or Apple – are of course ubiquitous anymore. It’s hard to find a social setting where there’s not a solid portion of the group with their faces stuck in their phones. The change in social interaction can become tiresome and, in some cases, worrisome. But of course, there’s tremendous good that we get form our phones, and today we’re going to cover one such area.

For the modern pinhole photographer, your phone can be a true godsend. For today’s article, we’re going to cover a few areas where your smartphone can make your life in pinhole photography much much easier.

Exposure Meters

Pinhole Assist (iOS only $2.99)

[singlepic id=208 w=225 float=right] [/singlepic]The aptly named Pinhole Assist (available on the app store) is the first phone app light meter I ever tried for pinhole photography. When you first open the app, you’re presented with a display from your camera, along with exposure readings based on the input ISO and ƒ-number. The upfront operation is simple: once you set the ISO (film canister icon) and aperture (aperture icon), you compose your scene in the view and the app gives you the exposure time. Playing with the buttons and menus, you’ll quickly discover some great features to help you get the right exposure. Diving deeper though, there’s special sauce to this app.

After you get your camera ISO and aperture dialed in, hit the “hamburger menu” in the top left (the three lines) – in this menu, you can choose a film if you like, and you’ll see there’s options for dialing in an exact aperture in case yours wasn’t in the regular aperture menu. Now that you have your setup exactly right, hit the “Add Combo” button in the menu, and enter a name. You’ve now saved your camera preset – this feature is a lifesaver if you have multiple pinhole cameras to manage.

Next, when you’re framing your scene in the app’s viewfinder, it’s using a general evaluative metering mode. Want to meter on something specific? Tap an area in the scene, and note the square – that’s a weighted meter now! Not quite a 1º spot, but it’ll do!

Pocket Light Meter (iOS Free, Android $0.99)

[singlepic id=209 h=200 float=left] [/singlepic]The Pocket Light Meter app is available for both iOS (app store) and Android (Google Play) and offers a solid alternative from the Pinhole Assist. This app lacks some features of Pinhole Assist – notably the ability to save camera profiles, set custom aperture values, and auto calculate reciprocity failure. But what it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in zen simplicity: dial in your ISO and aperture, and it starts measuring.

If you only have one pinhole camera, or you’re just testing the waters, Pocket Light Meter is a good option. The square in the middle acts as a center weighted average meter, and you can tap around the viewfinder to adjust this metering target. The larger viewfinder makes it helpful when double checking to make sure you’ve metered the exact area you need.

Reciprocity Management

Reciprocity Timer (iOS only $1.99)

[singlepic id=211 h=200 float=right] [/singlepic]One thing that we pinholers often run into is reciprocity compensation and management – so often that you may as well be sure you’re managing it correctly. Reciprocity Timer is available on the app store for $1.99, and was originally built for large format photographers. Over the years the app has built quite the reputation for having very exacting reciprocity tables – an advantage that can be crucial for color film such as Ektar.

But Reciprocity Timer doesn’t stop there. It has built in compensation for filters and includes a stopwatch function. Pinhole Assist also has a stopwatch built in, but for the shooter that uses films susceptible to reciprocity, it’s a very helpful app to finish your workflow in.

In the Darkroom

Massive Dev Chart (iOS $8.99, Android $8.99)

[singlepic id=210 h=200 float=left] [/singlepic]Many pinholers are processing their own film, and if you’re processing your own film, you need the Massive Dev Chart, available for Android on the Google Play Store and iOS on the App Store. The Massive Dev Chart is a compilation of a HUGE amount of film and development time combinations. In addition it has great features such as red and green light displays for use in the darkroom and multi-stage timers. For an app, it’s a bit steep in price – but to have every bit of data and timing tools you need at hand, it’s simply awesome.

What We Want

These apps are all great, and I encourage you to try them all. Having all the data that you need right in your pocket can be a huge boon to your process in the field and the darkroom. So what would you want added? What would make these apps perfect for you?

For me, it would be zone masking. I’d love to have options where a blinking mask covers everything in a specified zone, such as Zone V, III, or VII. Put your requests in the comments, and we’ll use our soapbox to reach out to app developers!


11 thoughts on “Smartphone Apps for Pinhole Photographers”

  1. There is also the Lumu. Il transforms your smartphone into lightmeter as one true.
    With program «Reciprocity Plus» sold on Apple Store, a perferct combination.

  2. I use (iPhone6, iOS8) Lumu Photo to meter and cross check with pocket light meter to see how they compare, strongly favoring the incident results from Lumu. I then move over to Pinhole Assistant, and manually choosing the EV and offset value that I wish to expose for, having already set up my focal length, ASA, and film reciprocity profile as a default, start my exposure, using the timer as a help. I preference comparing the PLM EV100 values against the Lumu results as their significant figures are most similar, though PHA’s reading are comparable it seems.

    I love PHA, though it can be a little flaky at times, crashing on entry of reciprocity data, or once when switching back to the app while its timer was nearing finish. I wish it could directly interpret the data from my Lumu, and that it would allow for at least half EV scale increments, though that is not a show stopper by any stretch.

    Another pair of apps I enjoy, are Expositor and LightMeterWheel. I haven’t yet settled on a favorite, and both take the place of my old BlackCat exposure guide, letting me think through my options in differing lighting environments – a nice check on myself.

  3. Hi, as the maker of these apps, I signal that another app, Reciprocity Plus on iOS ($0.99), has the same reciprocity management as Pinhole Assist, and adds filters and timer. For both these apps (Pinhole Assist and Reciprocity Plus), you can edit, create and share you own reciprocity correction at no extra cost ( no in-app purchases).

    1. Hi Henry. I had pinhole hd app on my iphone deleted it and now I went to add it back on but the App Store says not available in the USA. Can I get the app dome other places? Europe?

      1. Absolutely, for myself my interest in pinhole photography has nothing to do with being retro. It’s purely about the beauty and simplicity of the pinhole ‘system’.

  4. I am looking for the iPhone app pinhole hd. I love that but sadly I deleted it and now the App Store says it’s no available in the USA. Can I find it elsewhere?

Comments are closed.